Meditation, memory loss, Alzheimer’s and aging

November 14, 2012

Gordon Richman, Washington Times: Alzheimer’s is devastating and terrifying. Our grandparents are fighting it now, our parents preparing to fight it, and we know that we’re next. A recent bittersweet NPR piece explained that in order for most currently-conceived Alzheimer’s drugs to work effectively, patients would have to start treatment early– up to 20 years early.

Most of us, as much as we fear Alzheimer’s, don’t want to take a cocktail of drugs for something that may or may not happen in 20 years. Although there are brilliant scientists and physicians working on helping people with Alzheimer’s (and those who might suffer from it in …

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Yoga reduces inflammation response

August 7, 2012

UCLA study helps caregivers of people with dementia

Six months ago, researchers at UCLA published a study that showed using a specific type of yoga to engage in a brief, simple daily meditation reduced the stress levels of people who care for those stricken by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Now they know why.

As previously reported, practicing a certain form of chanting yogic meditation for just 12 minutes daily for eight weeks led to a reduction in the biological mechanisms responsible for an increase in the immune system’s inflammation response. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems.

Reporting in the current online edition of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, Dr. Helen Lavretsky, … Read more »

When we don’t make anything “wrong”

June 23, 2012

Sometimes when I talk about Radical Acceptance, I like to tell the story about Jacob, a man who at almost seventy and in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease attended a 10-day retreat I was leading.

A clinical psychologist by profession and a meditator for more than twenty years, Jacob was well aware that his faculties were deteriorating. On occasion his mind would go totally blank; he would have no access to words for several minutes and become completely disoriented. He often forgot what he was doing and usually needed assistance with basic tasks—cutting his food, putting on clothes, bathing, getting from place to place.

A couple of days into the retreat, Jacob had his first … Read more »

Yoga can enhance quality of life and slow cellular aging in caregivers

March 13, 2012

For every individual who’s a victim of Alzheimer’s — some 5.4 million people in the United States alone — there’s a related victim: the caregiver. Spouse, son, daughter, other relative or friend; the loneliness, exhaustion, fear, and most of all stress and depression, takes a toll

While care for the caregivers is difficult to find, a new study out of UCLA suggests that using yoga to engage in very brief, simple daily meditation can lead to improved cognitive functioning and lower levels of depression for caregivers.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and colleagues report a further benefit as well: a reduction in stress-induced cellular … Read more »

“Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows”: an interview with Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle

September 12, 2011

This book is intensely personal. Was it difficult to write?

Yes, at times it was difficult to write, but I felt a great sense of purpose. just before Hob died, I promised him that I would write a book and his voice would be in it. That became like a covenant between us. Also, I felt compelled to write the book. I realized that our background with meditation and the wisdom traditions gave us valuable perspectives which could be helpful to others. I hadn’t seen any books about how spiritual perspectives or practices could help with Alzheimer’s, and that’s what had helped us more than anything. In fact, the book can be helpful for people … Read more »

“Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows,” by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle

September 9, 2011

To be clear from the start, this book is worthy of the rich praise it has received. The inner jacket liner contains three pages crammed with accolades from what could be easily construed as the Who’s Who of leading contemporary spiritual leaders and health professionals. The book is a moving and loving story of this extraordinary couple’s experience.

It is a love story. It is a love story written from the deeply touching and personal perspective of a remarkable woman living through her equally remarkable husband’s dementia and death. The book covers the six years from his first symptoms to his death as she emotionally lived the various pieces of their life together as it … Read more »

Brains of Buddhist monks scanned in meditation study

April 24, 2011

Matt Danzico: In a laboratory tucked away off a noisy New York City street, a soft-spoken neuroscientist has been placing Tibetan Buddhist monks into a car-sized brain scanner to better understand the ancient practice of meditation.

But could this unusual research not only unravel the secrets of leading a harmonious life but also shed light on some of the world’s more mysterious diseases?

Zoran Josipovic, a research scientist and adjunct professor at New York University, says he has been peering into the brains of monks while they meditate in an attempt to understand how their brains reorganise themselves during the exercise.

Since 2008, the researcher has been placing the minds and bodies of prominent Buddhist … Read more »

Focus is key when training aging brains

Games geared toward working out the brain can improve cognitive functioning from middle age on. Most of us now know that we can keep our gray matter in peak form and even help stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s through mental exercises.

But change doesn’t come easy. Whether we are working on our memory or trying to meditate, brain-training exercises require a high level of mental focus to pay off in the end.

“It’s not easy to drive the brain’s connectivity,” said Michael Merzenich, an emeritus professor at UC San Francisco and a leading researcher in neuroplasticity. “You have to be engaged. I go nowhere if I’m not really paying attention to what I’m doing.”

The … Read more »

Meditation improves cognition in those with memory loss

March 2, 2010

The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation has announced data demonstrating that a meditation performed daily for eight weeks increased brain activity in areas central to memory and actually improved cognition in patients suffering from memory problems. The results of the study, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, will be published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in April, 2010.

The risk of Alzheimer’s disease rises dramatically as people age and, as the ranks of our nation’s elderly swell, the number of people facing this dreadful disease will devastate our already overburdened healthcare system. Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s by five or ten years would lessen this burden dramatically, but few options to slow, or perhaps … Read more »